Faster Than You Think: The Surprising Top Speeds of RC Cars

Admit it. When you get a new RC car, the first thing you do is try to figure out how fast it can go, right? 

Since we can’t drive our full-size cars at blistering speeds (legally), we’re left with RC cars to satisfy our need for speed. 

But how fast do RC cars go?

The world record for the fastest RC car is held by Nic Case, who reached 202.02 mph in his RC car “Bullet.” Many factors will influence an RC car’s top speed, ranging from the size of the battery, the type of motor, the gear ratios, and the RC Car’s weight.  

To discover how fast RC cars can go and what can be done to the vehicles themselves to make them even quicker, read on!

How Fast Do RC Cars Go?

Some RC cars can reach over 100 mph straight out of the box. Many RC enthusiasts have been able to modify their RC cars to get close to the 202 mph world record.

However, it takes a lot of work and a lot of (very) high-performance parts.

RC cars will usually have a set speed depending on what terrain it’s intended to be driven over. RC race cars can go anywhere from 30 to 100 mph. Off-road RC cars usually have a top speed ranging from 30 to 50 mph, while rock-crawling RC cars can have speeds between 20 to 40 mph.

The average toy-grade RC car will usually only be able to reach a top speed of 12-14 mph.

Below is a list of the fastest “out-of-the-box” RC cars available for purchase.

RC CarSpeed
 Traxxas XO-1100 mph
Traxxas E-Revo VXL70 mph
Losi Ford Raptor Baja Rey55 mph
JBL Racing Cheetah50 mph
Traxxas 8S X-Maxx50 mph
Traxxas UDR50 mph
INGQ Off-Road Monster Truck37 mph
Tamiya Off-Road Bu8ggy Champ30 mph
Soyee RTR Monster Truck28 mph
Traxxas Rustler standing start in sand

Scale Speed vs. Real Speed

There are two metrics to consider when talking about the speed of an RC car: the actual speed and the scale speed. 

Many toy RC car manufacturers will display the scale speed on the box rather than the actual speed.

Real Speed is the actual speed the RC car travels over the ground. The actual speed of a hobby-grade RC car is much higher than a toy-grade RC car.

The Scale Speed measures how fast the RC car will go compared to the full-size model. 

For example, an RC car with a scale of 1:10 will go at least 1/10 of the full-size vehicle it is based upon. Another example is a 1:8 scale RC car with a scale speed of 110mph with an actual speed of 13-14mph.

How To Find The Speed Of An RC Car

There are three ways you can test your RC car’s speed:

GPS Receiver

A GPS receiver is best suited to medium or large-scale RC cars, as it will add some weight. There are various GPS receivers on the market, but most will work similarly by recording the average and top speeds.

Data Logger

A data logger will work similarly to a GPS but with many added features. A data logger will be able to record acceleration, battery, or fuel usage at full throttle and G-forces, to name a few. Data loggers are best used for setting up cars for professional racing.

 Radar Gun

Using a radar gun similar to the ones used by police is an easy way to test an RC car’s speed. It is as easy as pointing and pulling the trigger with an instant reading on the radar gun. A radar gun can be purchased online from Amazon.

SkyRC GPS for RC cars and planes

What Influences The Speed Of A RC Car

Many factors influence an RC car’s speed:

Gear Ratios

The gear ratios in an RC car will influence the top speed and acceleration. RC cars have two main gears: a Pinion gear and a Spur gear. 

Both gears can be modified to change the performance characteristics of the RC car. A larger (longer) gear ratio will improve the car’s acceleration but will have a lower top speed. A short (small) gear ratio will give a higher top speed but slower acceleration.

Different Types of Motors

Only two kinds of electric motors are used in RC cars: brushed and brushless

Brushed motors are an older technology used in RC cars and have much more friction than brushless. Thus, they offer less power and lower speeds. 

Brushless motors are up to 15% more efficient, offering an almost frictionless drive, less heat, and more power.

Most RC cars will have the capacity to have a new motor installed into them, thus offering more power and efficiency. Brushless motors are slightly more challenging to steer, but the increased performance is worth it.

Will A Bigger Battery Increase Speed On A RC Car?

The primary concept to remember is that the voltage of a battery pack is a crucial factor. 

There are two common types of batteries, Ni-MH (nickel-metal hydride) and LiPo (Lithium-Ion Polymer), found in RC cars. 

We have an article dedicated to the differences between NiMH and LiPo batteries. In short, LiPo batteries have a larger voltage and are significantly lighter than Ni-MH batteries. Offering less weight and more power will improve the RC car’s speed.

Does Size And Weight Influence An RC Car’s Speed?

The size and weight of an RC car will significantly affect its speed. 

Larger RC cars weigh more than small cars but can take a larger battery and motor. The extra power will need to compensate for the excess weight. 

Still, they are generally faster than smaller RC cars with small motors and batteries.

Which RC Car Is Faster Electric Or Nitro?

Electric RC cars were not always faster than nitro RC cars. 

This has changed with the battery and motor technology advancements of electric RC cars over the last few years. Each category has advantages, but the electric RC car is the fastest.

Nitro RC cars can easily reach 100 mph and drive until the fuel tank is empty, then refill and continue driving. The electric RC car can reach speeds close to 200 mph but will need a battery change sooner as the battery does not last as long as a full tank of fuel.

Tim Wells

Tim Wells is the creator and driving force behind His passion for RC cars began when he caught a glimpse of a Kyosho Optima while on a family trip to Japan. Although he couldn't afford it then, the seed of his RC car hobby had been planted, and he knew he had to have one. Fast forward a few years, and he could finally dive head-first into the hobby as an adult. He found a ton of websites and YouTubers doing crazy stunts with their expensive RC cars but very few resources for the average person who just wants to go out and have fun. That's when he launched his RC car website: ClutchRC.

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